In pursuit of happiness

by   |   06/05/2023  27 Comments  [Jump to last]

Before the match on Monday against Leicester City, I was thinking that watching our beloved Blues is meant to be enjoyable. A pastime of joy, an antidote to the mundanity and difficulties of every day life. I try to enjoy it… but it just won’t happen –  I’m too stressed out .

I suppose it’s a bit like a fisherman, sitting in the rain under his green umbrella. Looking out at the disinterested float, mockingly doing a rain dance in the mid-distance.

Regardless of the lack of fish, the rain, the tepid coffee out of the ‘did I clean it properly’ thermos flask, we soldier on. We like it regardless of any external influences, we are doing what we love and are where we want to be.

Bill Bryson’s unique insight from his Goodison Park visit stimulated this missive on the subject after reading again it today.

Article continues below video content

“I noticed, as I often noticed at English soccer matches, that I was the only person in the stadium enjoying himself. The rest of the spectators, on both sides, were perpetually stressed and dismayed. A man behind me was simply full of despair.

"Now why did he do that?" he would say. "What was he thinking? Why didn't he pass it?"

His companion seemed to have some issues with 18th-Century German metaphysics because he kept saying over and over, "Fucking Kant." I am not quite sure how he was relating this to the actions before us, but every time Everton failed to score, he called them a "load of fucking Kants.”

So I am hoping you can relax a bit and enjoy the football, the sporting spectacle, and embrace the entertainment, as that’s all it’s meant to be. 

ps: If you can do it, please let me know how.

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Reader Comments (27)

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Brent Stephens
1 Posted 06/05/2023 at 18:58:55
The further away a game is, the more I feel some confidence about it; but as it gets ever closer, the more I fear it, trembling as the time is nigh.

A bit like my relationship with my beloved - I'm as brave as feck criticsing her, until she draws into sight. And when she then sidles up to me...

Lee Courtliff
2 Posted 06/05/2023 at 20:20:10
Funny you post this piece because, on Monday night, my best mate came round to watch the match with me. He's a Burnley season ticket holder and a huge fan of Dyche (although he's now realising his one-time Messiah isn't quite all he thought).

After watching nearly smash my knee caps on the living room floor as I threw myself to the ground in anguish at some of our decision-making, he casually glanced at me and said, "Football is supposed to be fun, something you enjoy".

Now, this was only said in jest but it really hit home with me as I've been thinking about it all week.

How much fun do we actually get from supporting this club? I'm 41, I was 13 the last time we won a trophy. We haven't even qualified for Europe in 6 years and our football has generally been garbage.

Where's the fun? Quite simply, there isn't any. We're addicts, Everton is the drug that cannot be kicked. Ever!

I've even agreed to travel all the way down to Wolves, paying for tickets and train fares, even though I know how poor we are. I'm even looking forward to it. I can't help myself.

I was on my smoke break the other day and I was thinking about how much I think about Everton... every single day without fail. And not just a fleeting thought either, I can easily spend hours over a day thinking about this piss-poor yet unequalled club of ours.

One day, all this will pay off and I'll see us win a major trophy again... I've earned it. We all have.

Danny O’Neill
3 Posted 06/05/2023 at 20:30:53
Tony, I always enjoy going to watch Everton despite the emotions I go through. Always have done, always will.

It will happen, Lee.

The dark days of the late Gordon Lee seasons. The stumbling start of Howard Kendall's era, and then the dark winter of 1983 before doing a U-turn.

The decades of having expectation beaten out of us.

Anything is possible.

You've earned it. It will happen once we get off this rollercoaster.

Brent Stephens
4 Posted 06/05/2023 at 20:47:46
"Where's the fun? Quite simply, there isn't any. We're addicts, Everton is the drug that cannot be kicked. Ever!"

The fun comes from the wins we do have, especially the unexpected wins; the games where we rescue a draw from the jaws of defeat.

The fun comes from the anticipation and hope that those moments, as rare as they might be, actually inspire.

Without the lows, there'd be no highs.

And the fun comes from seeing the other lot pull a metaphorical hamstring.

Neil Copeland
5 Posted 06/05/2023 at 20:58:23
I can't imagine life without Everton, I enjoy every moment of following them even the anguish because there is always a moment, no mater how small, to offset it.

The joy of seeing Pickford save a penalty or Keane score a worldly or Calvert-Lewin score the winner that keeps us up are all part of what makes it worthwhile.

As Danny posts above, our day will come again but there may be a lot of enjoyable pain before then, ha ha.

Gary Brown
6 Posted 06/05/2023 at 21:12:56
At the end of Palace game last season, I thought “Never again. We'll learn from this”. We never.

Now, I just wanna learn to go with the flow. If we go down, I'll still be there. We rise from the flames I'll be there…

The thing that scares me the most is this fight again next season. Whatever happens, the summer needs to bring real change in boardroom and pitch.

Lee Courtliff
7 Posted 06/05/2023 at 21:35:21
I understand what you're saying, Brent, and I do agree. Those moments are so special because they're so rare...especially this season.

But I was thinking about my mate who has just witnessed his team steamroller the Championship, playing some great football along the way. Now that's FUN!

We're living off scraps and have been for a long, long time.

Danny, I know we will, mate. It just feels a long way off right now.

Brent Stephens
8 Posted 06/05/2023 at 21:51:18
As you say, Lee, scraps today, but some time in the not too distant future, maybe a trophy.
Andy Crooks
9 Posted 06/05/2023 at 22:01:56
Do the very, very, very few highs outweigh the many, many lows? Yes they do. Take consolation from what we now consider a high. Had someone said a couple of years ago that a victory over Brighton would bring unspeakable joy, a mighty high, it would have been unthinkable.

Our pleasures are so much more simple. There's always a silver lining.

Joe McMahon
10 Posted 06/05/2023 at 23:05:11
The problem I've had the last few seasons is I know we will lose, even the so called lesser teams at Goodison (yes I know most have over taken us), and lose we do. Everton winning is so rare, and that's not what it's supposed to be. Season after season it's negative goal difference, and we never seem to sign regular proven goalscorers. I just want Everton to behave like a professional club with ambition. Yup, Kenwright out!

Lee- I saw my brother in law today, he admitted when Dyche was sacked he was worried because an American owner had come in and making too many changes, and or course the debt. He says he can't believe how much he was wrong and how Alan Pace is getting it right. Vincent Kompany as manger (who expected that), and now the NFL connection will give them publicity. He then asked me do I think Dyche will keep Everton up? I said to him.......Errr

Barry Rathbone
11 Posted 06/05/2023 at 23:26:51
I think, once you realise life long support of a football club is a mental illness, you can go about your normal daily business more comfortably.
Paul Birmingham
12 Posted 06/05/2023 at 23:31:31
Everton is a religion and, as we know, happiness makes you cry, and for sure there's been no success in terms of silverware for decades but the raw emotion and general banter and camaraderie amongst most Evertonians is priceless.

The guts and dedication of Evertonians in the face of adversity these past 30-odd years is a force of human nature which in football can't be eclipsed.

It's the realisation of how important the club is, more so in these tough years past and in the next few weeks. The pleasant stenches of Goodison Park and the surrounding streets on match day and in the surrounding pubs and chippies; St Luke's and the memorabilia, the intensity in the pub after a win, a great win, and the knowledge and forthright honesty to discuss openly the difficult games lost by a mile or just bad luck.

But, as many Evertonians of an older vintage, and some of a fine old vintage, blessed to have seen success, and of the younger generations whose dedication is inspirational, the memories are priceless.

One day, this club will find a better place and hopefully the journey to a better place starts on Monday teatime at Brighton.


Kieran Kinsella
13 Posted 07/05/2023 at 00:37:31

It's funny seeing Bill Bryson's perspective because I've been on the other side of the coin. Here the Kansas City Chiefs NFL fans claim they are passionate as opposed to the baseball and football teams.

I've been to their games among the “hardcore faithful” and realized their “passion” is actually just shouting and swearing not because you're emotionally involved but because they get paralyticly drunk. In other words they shout and swear at each other or about Biden, Trump whatever. It is nothing to do with our type of as Barry calls it “mental illness” Danny's “love” or Paul's “religion.” All three descriptions are appropriate.

For myself I'd say I'm probably more in the Barry group of seeing as a mental illness I have. I remember as a kid throwing a tantrum when we lost a derby and one of my parents' friend who was an ornithologist saying to me “why do you spend all you're time watching grown men kick around a bag of wind?”

And I replied “Why do you spend all your time watching flying bags of wind covered in feathers that crap on people?” I got in trouble for being rude.

Although the ornithologist (actually a very nice man) conceded I had a point. We all have our illogical obsessions whether for love, worship or mental illness!

Kevin Molloy
14 Posted 07/05/2023 at 00:41:44
It's not surprising to be honest if people are feeling gloomy. We are at our lowest ebb in the history of the club. And we can't even complain about it, having spent money like a drunken sailor the way we have.

Nobody outside Everton, and I mean nobody, is going to feel bad if we drop. They will be laughing their heads off. We really don't deserve to stay up, bloated on gangster cash, run by scumbags and scoundrels, but I can't help myself.

The feeling we are cursed grows with every year. And now we're riding into battle for the last few games with that donkey at centre back. God help us.

Bill Gall
15 Posted 07/05/2023 at 02:42:15
Fun can be had being an Everton supporter and that is when we win by a convincing score and performance, problem is they are rare as hen's teeth.

I am like most supporters – followed Everton after my first game and that was in 1954 and I got in when the gates opened 20 minutes before the end. I was hooked right away by the atmosphere and the humor from the crowd. I don't remember the score but the bug was implanted.

I am 82 now so have gone through more highs and lows than a number of supporters but the passion is still there and, as my wife says, if she had a heart attack she would have to wait until half-time before I would phone for an ambulance (just kidding I think).

Most successful teams are supported with supporters just who pick winning teams. Everton are supported by people who are born blue-blooded but don't know it until their first game.

We are all disappointed by what is happening at the club and it is a shame that the true supporters are not being heard. But the one thing that can bring a smile on our faces is we were here before these clowns, and most of you will be here after they have gone.

There is another thing you can rely on, the ones before a game with a smile on their faces cracking the jokes is an Everton Supporter, who continue to support their team in the good and bad times.

Off to bed – my medication is kicking in.

Alan J Thompson
16 Posted 07/05/2023 at 06:31:15
How can anyone take it too seriously, for heaven's sake?!?

OK, I've cancelled Tuesday's Doctor's appointment as we play Monday night but the Doctor will be there in a couple of weeks and I'm less certain that Everton will be. In my 70's and get up early owing to time difference as much as anything and in a self imposed news blackout I'll watch the replay. Whatever happened to 3PM Saturday, even lunchtime Sunday was almost acceptable and am I one of the few that remember early season Tuesday night home games?

If the worst was to happen I don't know how to find coverage of Championship games or if all games are covered. And what about all the hard work Optus have put in rectifying the same transmission problem those 24 times. Not to mention how a full night's sleep might affect the Doctor's income.

You see, there's more to this than meets the eye and I won't be stopped by a Pickford hip, a Coleman's knee or less saliva than a good striker's first on pitch gob.

Life as we know it, oh, and how's Bill's health? Oh dear, what a shame, never mind. Addiction my foot!

Peter Warren
17 Posted 07/05/2023 at 07:48:07
It's embarrassing watching our team and being an Evertonian but I never fail to be proud of listening to our supporters, week-in & week-out, particularly away from home. We go mad and get excited even when we get a throw-in high up the pitch.

If we ever get a proper team, wow (I only remember seeing us in '90s really, having been born in 1979 so too young to remember the '80s heydays).

In terms of excitement, we've had little for years, but we used to always have exciting players in past, whether Gravesen, Arteta, Kanchelskis and Richarlison.

Unfortunately, likeability is even in short supply with players in this side, let alone trying to find a hero. Pickford produced heroics last season and will likely continue to do so these last four games – just like he did against Leicester.

As for outfield players, I guess McNeil since Dyche came in can at least be commended for his efforts and balls to at least try and produce.

Derek Thomas
18 Posted 07/05/2023 at 08:15:55
Alan J @ 15;

In the '60s, almost without exception (Inter Milan), we played our evening league and cup replay games on a Tuesday and Liverpool on Wednesdays. They had more European games than us but their league games were always on Wednesday.

Bill Gall
19 Posted 07/05/2023 at 13:17:52
Alan 16
DAZN have coverage of Championship games but you will not need it.
Dale Self
20 Posted 07/05/2023 at 14:42:55
Nice Tony, vety nice and leaving it right there in the uncertainty is the key I think. I’m not going to rail against the logical negativism. People have to deal with that charge in their inner circuitry however they can. It is what football touches which you have no control over. Get analytical and rational, lose the magic right there and then. We all sign up to rake that ride not lnowing where it goes well because much of life is predictable and shitty.

Football can get you past that and Everton actually does. And when it does all else is temporarily forgotten until the next surprise. We all love the sure thing for bragging rights and security of identity but it is the ride that is magical.

Half of my love for Everton probably comes from beating the odds and occasionally spoiling the bourgeois dreams of better funded clubs. I have always hoped for better but always knew the odds. Sometimes the uncertainty is overwhelming but it is the essence of this love we feel.

Jamie Sweet
21 Posted 08/05/2023 at 02:24:10
At the end of the day, goals are the really fun bit of watching football. The euphoria of seeing your team hit the back of the net is what we all live for, isn't it?

There are two factors which have made this a less enjoyable season. Firstly, for me, the VAR has diluted the whole experience of celebrating a goal, as you know there's a chance that someone's armpit hair was offside during the build-up. And secondly, we're just not very good at scoring goals.

Across the top 5 divisions in English football, only 3 teams have a worse goals-per-game ratio than us. So if celebrating the ball hitting the old onion bag is something you love to do, then you'd be better off supporting literally any team other than Everton, Forest Green Rovers, Gillingham or Yeovil Town.

That really is fucking grim, isn't it!

Steve Shave
22 Posted 08/05/2023 at 07:47:42
Thanks for posing Tony. Fun? No! Necessity? Yes!

I wish it wasn't if I'm perfectly honest with you, it's cost me so much time and energy with little return in my 45 years. However, when you love something you stick with it. Managing expectations is important as an Evertonian, expectations are the birthplace of disappointments.

I'm anxious about the game, we simply have to get something from it. I agree with a couple of posters who say we have to go for it, sitting back against these lot with Keane in defence is asking for trouble. 4-5-1 and fight for your lives. COYB.

Dave Abrahams
23 Posted 08/05/2023 at 12:54:25
Dale (20) and Steve (22) share my experiences and feel the same way I do about Everton FC love and loyalty for the team we chose to follow.

The position the club is in now wasn’t really a lot better then when I first began supporting the club but I loved football as much as Everton then and it was sheer magic for me to see the footballers of the forties.

The special players Tommy Lawton and Joe Mercer had left the club, TG Jones would soon follow them and it was a mostly mediocre teams that I followed with just two semi final appearances for excitement with both ending in defeat, a promotion season followed in the third year of second division football and they made a meal of that keeping us waiting until the last game of the season on a joyous night in Oldham.

I along with thousands of other Toffeenoses waited another nine years before that magical game versus Fulham saw us presented with the title- - brilliant.

Then came three more league titles, three FA cup wins, a sensational night in Rotterdam but only the good times we had under “ Thingy” came after those very welcome years.

We have to take the good with the bad and I’ve met some brilliant people who I met as a kid and right through the years up to the present day who followed the Blues like me and are all part of being an Everton fan, we’ve had a lot more downs than ups but I wouldn’t want to support any other club but Everton, let’s see what these four games have in store for us finishing the season, I hope they mean another “ up “ to go along with other relegation battles we’ve had to endure, these relegation battles are the good times Billy Boy is talking about, thanks a bunch “ Chairman Bill”.

John Keating
24 Posted 08/05/2023 at 13:09:45
Great post Dave
Never forget that Fulham game as long as I live!!!
Dale Self
25 Posted 08/05/2023 at 13:18:07
Yes beautiful Dave. I think I can speak for Steve and say that Tony and you have shown us how to do it. Being here, hearing the heritage and personal experiences added immensely to what I knew to be true inside. Carry on (skip the keep calm part). UTFT!
Danny O’Neill
26 Posted 08/05/2023 at 13:30:22
Dave, as I head to Brighton, that post had my hay-fever ridden eyes watering. Ahem.

Like a marriage, we are with this club that we love unreservedly, no matter what. Because its all we have ever known.

Unlike those who claim to and issue statements in their media driven world.

Lee Courtliff
27 Posted 09/05/2023 at 05:23:20
Now then, yesterday was FUN!!! Well, I allowed myself to relax when we were 3 goals up with only 30 seconds left to play...then we scored another!


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